Follow this format for writing your delve-in responses. Getting this down will serve you well when it comes to write your literary analysis essay.
Make your claim in one sentence, including the author and book title. [In Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger, the main character, Holden Caulfield, is immature in some aspects but quite mature in others.] Use a passage from the text – quotation or paraphrase - to illustrate your point. Document appropriately. Explain the passage, telling how it illustrates your point. [For example, Holden likes to lie for fun and convenience, which is not very mature of him. He admits that when “somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera” (16). He also lies to his teacher, Mr. Spencer, about his fencing equipment in order to end their meeting instead of dealing with his negative feelings about being misunderstood by Mr. Spencer (15).] Using a proper transition or connection, identify another passage – perhaps quoting only part of a sentence (use ellipses if necessary); document appropriately. [However, Holden also seems quite mature in terms of his ability to perceive the motivations and weaknesses of the adults around him. He can see through the phoniness of his old prep school headmaster, Mr. Haas, who intentionally snubs the poorly dressed parents who come to visit (14). If “somebody’s father was one of those guys that wear those suits with very big shoulders and corny black-and-white shoes, then [he] would just shake hands with them and give them a phony smile and then he’d go talk, for maybe half an hour, with somebody else’s parents” (14).] Make the connection between the passages and your theme/thesis. Conclude; don’t just stop. [As an adolescent trying to grow up and make sense of the adult world, Holden Caulfield clearly displays the duality of being mature and immature at the same time.]
Delve-In Response Graphic Organizer (TCITR)
Claim (including the author and book title):
In The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger, the main character, Holden Caulfield, is protective of and worries about those who are vulnerable.
Quote #1 Introduction and Analysis:
For example, Holden worries about and is protective of his friend, Jane Gallagher, who goes on a date with his roommate, Stradlater, known for being sexually aggressive with girls.
Quote #1: (Introduce the quote before you quote. Use only the words you need).
During this incident, Holden claims that he was “so nervous [he] almost went crazy” and “so damn worried” to the point that“[he doesn’t] want to interrupt [his] worrying to go” to the bathroom (Salinger 40). He is worried because he has double-dated with Stradlater, and he has seen Stradlater be “unscrupulous” when it comes to pushing girls to have sex with him (40).
Quote #1 Analysis: (Explain. How does the quote “prove” your point?)
Holden is friends with Jane, used to live next door to her, plays checkers with her, and claims that she has had a “lousy childhood” (?). He knows that she is vulnerable, especially when it comes to a sexual predator like Stradlater. So, he worries and feels protective of her.
Quote #2 Introduction and Analysis:
In fact, Holden is so protective of Jane that he gets in a fight with Stradlater over the fact that he won’t tell her whether he “gave her the time” or not.
Holden tells him that he “didn’t even care whether a girl kept all her kings in the back row or not, and the reason he didn’t care was because he was a goddamn stupid moron” (44).
Quote #2 Analysis:
Holden is referring to how Jane used to play chess, and he is implying that Stradlater has taken advantage of a girl who is vulnerable and should be protected, rather than taken advantage of. Holden takes a punch in the face from Stradlater when he refuses to stop calling Stradlater a “moron.”
Quote #3 Introduction and Analysis:
Furthermore, Holden worries about and is protective of the ducks in Central Park during the winter, where it seems that they don’t have anywhere to go.
While speaking with Mr. Spencer, Holden’s history teacher, he thinks to himself, “I was wondering about where the ducks went when the lagoon got all icy and frozen over. I wondered if some guy came in a truck and took them away to a zoo or something. Or if they flew away” (13).
Quote #3 Analysis:
Holden is worried about the ducks in the winter because they seem vulnerable—their natural habitat, the lake, seems to be hostile to the way they live. In addition, it seems like they don’t have anywhere to go, and he wants to know whether they will be taken care of—hopefully, either by the zoo or by flying away naturally.
Quote #4 (optional):
Quote #4 Analysis (optional)
Concluding Sentence: (Restate your claim).
In short, Holden shows that he is protective of and worries about those who are vulnerable in his reactions to Stradlater’s date with Jane and his thoughts about the ducks in Central Park.
Catcher in the Rye Name:
Essay Topics Date:
Rough Draft Due Wed., Feb. 27/Thurs., Feb. 28
Directions: Thoughtfully write a five-paragraph essay about one of the topics below.
Be sure to consult the essay-writing guidelines in your journal for assistance.
1. Salinger weaves a variety of symbols into The Catcher in the Rye, including (but not
limited to) the red hunting hat, the ducks in Central Park, and Allie.s mitt. Select
and analyze one symbol that Salinger uses in the book. Explain how Salinger
develops this object as a symbol throughout the story (see Journal 88). Discuss the
symbol.s meaning and significance, and explore its contributions to the overall
message of the novel.
2. Throughout the novel, Holden is a tormented adolescent. He feels alienated and
isolated at Pency Prep, he is belittled by women he wants to impress, he is beaten
up twice, he wants to run away and cut himself off from all other people, and he
even considers suicide. Yet, in spite of Holden.s pain, the novel is funny. It really
is. Why did Salinger choose humor as the tone for the novel? How does Salinger.s
use of humor contribute to the book.s overall meaning and effect? Consider how
the book.s overall meaning would be different if Salinger did not use so much
3. Critic David D. Galloway said, .Wherever Holden turns, his craving for truth seems
to be frustrated by the phoniness of the world.. Analyze Holden.s use of the word
.phony.. What does the word mean in the context of the book, and does Holden
offer any alternative to phoniness? Is Holden himself guilty of being a phony? How
does Salinger want readers to judge ideas about phoniness?
4. Discuss the meaning or impact of the title of the book as a central, controlling
symbol of the story. How does Holden.s wish to be the .catcher in the rye. help
readers understand both his character and the nature of his deep troubles and
concerns about life? Be sure to address the significance of Holden.s misreading of
the Robert Burns poem.
5. Critic Maxwell Geismar writes, .The Catcher in the Rye protests, to be sure, against
both the academic and social conformity of its period. But what does it argue for?.
Write an essay to explain what the book .argues for." What might Salinger have
been trying to communicate to his readers through this novel, and how does he do
6. Holden, like each of us, faces living in a world he didn.t create. Nobody, not even
Holden, can live in a culture without having some of it rub off on them. What
faults of his society does Holden exhibit? How does Salinger reveal these faults to
1. The Mixed Tape: Make a ten song mixed tape or CD for Holden Caulfield, if he were around today. In letter to Holden, explain why you are including each of the ten songs on the mixed tape. Each song should have a paragraph of in-depth description as to why you think he would like it, using evidence you used from the themes, symbols, motifs, and situations that Holden and the novel explored. Requirements: 10 songs (artist/song title) on tape or CD, at least a paragraph explanation for each, use of lyrics to explain rationale, cover for mixed tape.
2. Holden and Gene: Compare The Catcher in the Rye with another novel that describes the loss of innocence and the attainment of maturity - John Knowles' A Separate Peace. Compare and contrast the characters of Gene and Holden. Explain which book presents the most convincing picture of growing up. Requirements: Title page, 3 pages, typed, good mechanics.
3. Holden and Depression: Research depression in teenagers, including information about its symptoms and treatment. After doing so, look at Holden. Which symptoms does he exhibit? Use evidence from the story to create a "diagnosis" of Holden. Requirements: Title page, 3 pages, typed, proper documentation, good mechanics.
4. Holden, Ten Years Later: Write a piece of short fiction in which you join Holden's life ten years after the story ends. Try, as best you can, to replicate Holden's unique voice. Write it in the style of The Catcher in the Rye. Try to use what you know of him from the book along with Holden's state of mind throughout the novel to guide your prediction. Requirements: Title page with title, 4 pages minimum, typed.
5. Graphic Novel / Comic Book: This option allows the artistic students to use their skills to recreate the story in a graphic novel (i.e. comic book) format. Choose the most important scenes - in your view - and tell the story of The Catcher in the Rye. The quality of your project will be determined by the following: the extent to which your graphic novel includes the entire story of the novel, the quality / effort put into of the artwork, and the inclusion of an introduction in which you explain what you tried to capture in your recreation of the novel (e.g., "I wanted to emphasize the extent to which they reject society and reveal themselves as rebels in the American spirit. I did this because… and showed it by…").
6. Holden's Scrapbook: Compile a scrapbook of memorabilia that Holden might have collected or come across during the novel. All artifacts must be captioned with where he got it, its significance to him, and the page you found it on. Think of the images that keep recurring in the novel, the places Holden travels to, and anything he collects. This project will be assessed based on the amount of memorabilia collected and its presentation. As a benchmark, expect to get at least ten pieces of memorabilia for your scrapbook.
7. The Secret Goldfish: We hear a brief description of the plot of Holden's brother D.B.'s story "The Secret Goldfish" early in the novel. Try your hand at short fiction, as you use the details from the description and write a three-page story out of it. Requirements: Title page, 4 pages minimum, typed.
8. Ordinary People and Holden Caulfield: Rent the 1980 Robert Redford film Ordinary People (winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture). It is the story of a family struggling to deal with the accidental death of a teenage son. Compare the situations in the film with the situations that occur with the Caulfields in The Catcher in the Rye. How much of Holden's behavior has been affected by the death of Ally? Compare and contrast Conrad's grief with that of Holden. Requirements: Title page, 3 pages, typed.
9. Finding Salinger: Interview the author: As we already know, J.D. Salinger is a brilliant recluse who does not often participate in conversations about his life and work. Imagine, however, that somehow you have been granted the first interview with Salinger in decades. He invites you into his home and promises thorough answers to five questions. In your write-up for People magazine, you will want to explain what his house looked like, how he looked when he greeted you, if he had any pets, etc - then, you will write your five questions and their answers. Lastly, you will write a conclusion. This will include your impressions of the author or any interesting facts that you learned from the interview that were not mentioned in your five questions. You could even compare and/or contrast J.D. Salinger to Holden Caulfield in your conclusion. Requirements: Title for article, Introduction, five questions and thorough answers, conclusion.
10. The tool of madmen?: Mini-research project: John Hinkley, who attempted an assassination of Ronald Reagan in 1981, and Mark David Chapman, who murdered John Lennon in 1980, both brought The Catcher to the Rye into the national spotlight. Hinkley told the court that his defense could be found in the novel's pages, while Chapman had asked Lennon to sign his copy of the book earlier in the same day he killed him. Find what you can about both of these instances - how was The Catcher in the Rye involved in each? Requirements: Title page, 3 pages, typed, proper documentation, good mechanics.
11. Censorship and Catcher in the Rye: Mini-research project: Chart the censorship of The Catcher in the Rye since its publishing. What reasons have there been for the challenges the book has faced throughout the years? Requirements: Title page, 3 pages typed, proper documentation, good mechanics.
12. Be the Teacher: You will teach for a 30-minute period in which you lead a discussion on a particular set of themes or some other focused topic as it relates to The Catcher in the Rye. During this 30-minute period, you will prepare and be ready to do the following: facilitate a discussion on selected, important themes; introduce your lesson with some opening remarks; use visual aids - video clips, handouts, posters, and overheads - to help the class think about and understand the ideas you present; and write a brief (about 1 page) follow-up analysis of what you set out to accomplish, how well they/you accomplished this goal, and what you learned from the whole experience.